ASL Deaf Awareness Week making its impact


Madeline Khoo

Person holding up the ‘I love you’ sign in sign language for ASL Deaf Awareness

Madeline Khoo

As Find Kind and ASL Club wrap up American Sign Language Deaf Awareness Week, September 18th-24th was Ayala’s week of informing and exposing students to Deaf culture. 

Organized by the two clubs, Deaf Culture Awareness Week seeks to de-stigmatize the misrepresentation of the Deaf community. Each day, Find Kind Founder and President, Gabriella Torres, and ASL Club Vice President, Kaylie Do, promoted different events and posts on Instagram to bring about awareness and resources to support the community. 

“Deaf Awareness Week to Find Kind Club and ASL is very important because not only do we expose but we also showcase and highlight such an important culture that a lot of people really don’t know about. It’s something that’s so unique and it’s very misrepresented or underrepresented,” Torres said. 

On Tuesday, Find Kind posted an ASL cover of “Good 4 U” by Olivia Rodrigo on their club’s Instagram page, which received over seven thousand views. This was followed by Wednesday’s Silent Dinner at the local Panera Bread. 

“We all just signed together and we don’t talk, because it’s called Silent dinner. We sign together and it’s a really fun time. Obviously if you don’t know ASL, you’re more than welcome to come and we can teach you signs and different things,” Torres said. “You can immerse yourself in that culture in a way where you are not forced, but you are asked to sign so that you can also put your perspective in another place.”

The rest of the week was concluded with informational resources to support the Deaf community, as well as a few special appearances from the ASL class.

The Homecoming football game on Friday, September 23rd, featured the ASL 4H class signing the National Anthem before the game took place. Although it was silent, it held a huge impact as Deaf culture was being celebrated and spreading awareness. 

ASL has become more than just a foreign language to communicate with Deaf people, but has instead become a subject in schools that students have taken into account. 

“[ASL] is really useful for communicating with a wider range of people, especially Deaf people, since many people don’t learn ASL to communicate with them, it’s good for communication purposes and one day you can also become an interpreter with it for a job,” sophomore Evelyn Naing said. 

As students continue to become more informed about Deaf culture and ASL itself, it allows the community to be more seen and acknowledged. Especially with the newly installed school bells and fire alarms, more and more is being done in order to implement deaf-friendly systems everywhere. The school bells now scroll through the word “bell” in order to inform Deaf students about the end of class, as the bell sound itself is unable to signal the dismissal for these individuals. Fire alarms have also been added to include red flashing lights and provide a visual aid for these emergencies. 

[ASL] instantly seems to put me in deep and personal contact with people I would have never had access to if I did not know ASL,” ASL substitute teacher and librarian Jennifer Reese said. “When I meet a new person who signs (especially if they are Deaf) it’s like we are instant friends. There’s an immediate connection.”